NASCAR & Auto Racing

Shane Schaefer does dirty work to set up Sleep Train for Endurocross

Next Tuesday, Shane Schaefer will begin his annual task of transporting 1,500 cubic yards of dirt to Sleep Train Arena, where he will begin the process of shaping the massive pile into an Endurocross racetrack.

Endurocross, which returns to Sacramento on Sept. 26, is a combination of motocross and trials riding that’s well-suited for arenas where race fans are close to the action. There are sections of the track that feature jumps, which are familiar to motocross fans, and then there are obstacles on the track such as water pits and logs, that trials riders and fans like to see. And it’s Schaefer’s job to make the track as challenging as possible.

“We’ll start processing the dirt that’s been left in a domed pile outside the arena on Tuesday and then start moving it inside early Wednesday morning,” Schaefer said. “We’ll be pulling three 12- to 14-hour days getting the arena ready, and we’ll be done just before the race starts.”

Schaefer, 37, owns Schaefer Tracks, a Racine, Wis.-based custom motorcycle track construction company that sets up tracks for Supercross, Arenacross and the X Games. Schaefer took time out from designing a custom Supercross track for motocross champion Jeremy Martin at his Minnesota home to talk about Sacramento, where he’s been pouring a 6-inch base of dirt onto the Sleep Train Arena floor every year since 1998. He said the tallest obstacle, a jump, will stand at least 8 feet high off the floor, and there will be a water feature, although he played coy about the specifics in order to avoid tipping off riders.

“We always have some sort of water,” Schaefer said. “Whether that’s a concrete-lined pond with rocks or logs in it, or a sort of river crossing … we don’t know yet. But fans always love watching that part of the track.”

Doug Osterkamp, a Placerville resident, is the mechanic for defending Endurocross champ Cody Webb. Webb is tied for first entering the event at Sleep Train Arena. Osterkamp said it’s the first time he and Webb have been on the same team for an event in Sacramento, and he’s looking forward to the track layout.

“Schaefer does a lot of our tracks and the layout depends on the size of the arena,” said Osterkamp as his team tries to secure a 2016 contract with motorcycle manufacturer KTM. “The smaller arenas mean the track will be more technical and the larger ones will have some area for speed. Sleep Train is probably in the middle.”

National speedway titles on line – The Budweiser AMA Speedway National Championship Series final is at 8 tonight at Fast Fridays Speedway at the Gold Country Fairgrounds in Auburn.

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It’s the second-to-last event of the 2015 season. The annual USA vs. The World event is Oct. 9.

Schatz dominates Gold Cup – World of Outlaws sprint car defending champion Donny Schatz continued his dominance by taking the checkered flag during last Saturday’s Gold Cup race of Champions finale at Chico’s Silver Dollar Speedway. The four-day event featured a variety of sprint car races, plus weekend racing from the Outlaws, the world’s best sprint car drivers.

The win Saturday was Schatz’s 29th of the season and was his second Gold Cup title. His first came in 2004. Schatz increased his lopsided lead to 429 points over Shane Stewart, who is second in wins on the circuit with nine.

Grass Valley native Brad Sweet finished fifth. Elk Grove native Paul McMahon was 10th, while Roseville’s Sean Becker took 12th in the A Main feature. Becker secured his fourth consecutive Silver Dollar Speedway track title and his fifth overall.

Al Hinds tribute race – The 2015 season comes to a close Saturday night at the Placerville Speedway with the annual Tribute to Al Hinds Race. Hinds was an early promoter at the track, which is celebrating its 50th season.

The 360-cubic-inch engine Sprint Car winner will earn $2,000, the Late Model winner earns $1,000 and the Pure Stocks winning driver will earn $500, which are the biggest payouts of the season.

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Mark Billingsley covers local motor sports for The Bee. Reach him at or @editorwriter001.